In the Constitutional Court’s (Concort) scathing judgement against President Jacob Zuma on the Nkandla matter, the full bench of 11 justices said: “By passing that resolution (absolving Zuma), the National Assembly effectively flouted its obligations.”

Neither the President nor the National Assembly was entitled to respond to the binding remedial action taken by the Public Protector as if it is of no force or effect or has been set aside through proper judicial processes.

“The ineludible conclusion is that the National Assembly’s resolution based on the Minister (of Police, Nathi Nhleko’s) findings exonerating the President from liability is inconsistent with the Constitution and unlawful.”

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her report found that Zuma was liable to pay a portion of the non-security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead which included a cattle kraal, chicken run, swimming pool, amphitheatre and visitors’ centre.

After more than five years of denial and political machinations, whether or not Zuma should pay back a portion of the security upgrades to Nkandla was clarified by the Concourt ruling that also affirmed the Public Protector’s powers.

The Concourt unanimously decided that Zuma had failed to uphold his constitutional mandate and ordered that he pay back a portion of “taxpayers” money used to upgrade his Nkandla homestead. The 11 justices of the highest court in the land also ruled that the National Assembly had flouted the constitution when it chose to asset aside Madonsela’s Nkandla report.

The Constitutional Court’s unanimous, 11-judge finding was that he had failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution. By implication this meant he had broken the oath of office he had twice taken on the issue of multimillion-rand upgrades to his homestead.

The court declared out of order Zuma’s efforts to dodge paying for the non-security improvements on his property. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s finding that he should pay for them had been binding. If he had wanted to challenge it, he should have gone to court – not to Parliament or some in his administration. Neither Zuma nor Parliament had been entitled to dismiss the public protector’s remedial action, the judges said.

The president had shown substantial disregard for her remedial action, the judges said, and his conduct had been illegal in not assisting and protecting the protector by complying with her finding.

On the MPs’ conduct, the court found “there was everything wrong with the National Assembly stepping into shoes of the public protector’ by nullifying her findings.